Ramadan is just around the corner, and with only a few days left I thought I would share some tips on my game plan to help make this month as fruitful as possible.
I'm a very visual person, so when I need to get something done I always put it on a "to-do" list in a place that's prominent enough that it can't get ignored. That's key, as I'm also a major procrastinator and have a tendency to ignore just about everything.
However Ramadan is not just a list of "to-do" items - it's reminders, planning, cooking, worship, time with family and personal reflection. And all of that can't fit in one place, unless I write it all over the wall... and I'm pretty sure hubster wouldn't appreciate that.
So instead of defacing our home in the name of efficiency, I thought the best way to keep myself organized was to create a Ramadan Binder.
This binder is intended to keep me on track this month inshAllah, so it's reflective of what I want to focus on. It's one part preparation and one part continuation: things I want to do before Ramadan begins and things I want to do throughout the blessed month.
If you want to dowload a copy of my Ramadan 2016 Action Plan, you can find it here.
Food & Cooking
You can't get away from the fact that food plays a huge role in Ramadan.
It's not just the fasting aspect, but moreso the togetherness we feel when breaking our fast with those we love.
I have fond memories of iftars with my family. The delicious food my mom always made, the way everyone helped out before sitting down with itchy anticipation for the meal to come, the sleepy, happy, food-coma we had before heading to the mosque for night prayers.
I love the part food plays in this holy month, but it's easy to get carried away and make meals the priority over the worship and togetherness that is the essence of Ramadan.
I'm making it a point that this month I will serve meals with love, not energy. Yesterday morning I flipped through all the recipes I have in my recipe binder and took out the easiest, tastiest, and least time consuming recipes I could use during Ramadan. The fussy, elegant, and laborious ones didn't make the cut... I'm saving those for when I have the energy to make them.
I'll also be making a few extra meat-based freezer meals for those days when time is really short.
If you're on the hunt for easy recipes, I have a couple you should definitely try, like my Puff Pastry Triangles, or Corn Dog Mini Muffins - both are yummy iftar options that your family is sure to love.
At 8 and 5, my girls are no longer babies.
And although I miss that stage, I know it's in this one where they will begin to learn the lessons that will shape their future habits.
Every Ramadan my girls and I did fun things to celebrate the beauty of the month, but this Ramadan I want to challenge them to practice that beauty.
The "Good Deed Tree" is a craft we did last Ramadan, and it encouraged the kids to check their good deeds with kind words and acts. We also made Lanterns, a super quick and easy craft you can find here. Check out the links if you want directions on how to make your own.
My older daughter is getting the hang of praying regularly alhamdulillah, but this coming month is the perfect time to really hone those habits. So another craft I have in mind is a Prayer Calendar she can use to check her daily prayers. I'll be posting a tutorial during the month when we do this craft inshAllah.
When I come across crafts or kid activities for Ramadan, I plan on documenting them in this binder as well.
Cleaning & Home Preparation
This section is basically a checklist of how I want my home to look and feel before Ramadan begins. This deosn't mean it's going to stay sparkly clean and perfect, but at least I can start the month off on a clean slate.
Ibadah & Worship
This is my favorite section because it's really action-based and specific.
I'm not disciplined enough to take vague thoughts and execute them precisely. My action plan for this month consists of habits I want to improve upon and some that I want to begin.
For example, a habit that I want to improve upon is making dhikr, or remembrance, after each prayer. I would also like to get better at reading Qur'an faster and more fluently, so I hope to add some more pages to my regular reading by the end of the month inshAllah.
A habit I want to begin would be staying awake after fajr, or early morning prayer, in order to increase my productivity.
... Even though after-fajr sleep is quite possibly the best sleep ever. *Sigh* Just thinking of it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside....
Additionally I want to take some time out during the day or night for self-reflection. To ask myself questions like "Did I get angry today?", "What can I do better tomorrow?", and "Did I remember Allah today?".
For me, having specific and tangible goals makes the task more manageable and therefore easier to accomplish. And this concept applies not only for worship, but to each area I plan to focus on this month. Using a binder to accomplish this is entirely optional, use whatever you know will work for you. Make it small and make it consistent. May Allah help us all to have a beautiful and fruitful Ramadan this year.
So now I want to challenge YOU to do the same. What are your goals this Ramadan? Share in the comments below or on FB!